How a pair of ballet slippers inspired me to write.

This year is my year to write. Writing has long been a passion of mine, one I’ve rarely found time for. Oh, I write everyday, as do most of us for work, for social interaction and business matters. I want to write for pleasure and so, one of my intentions for the year is to set aside time to do just that. “Why didn’t you just do it?” I hear you asking. The problem is, I’ve been so overwhelmed, my brain so full and devoted to occupational writing I have been stuck for inspiration, despite having great passion. I was inspired when I discovered the Queensland Writers Centre housed in the vibrant precinct of the State Library of Queensland. They offer a wide range of programs and workshops for budding and experienced writers. I was particularly attracted to their once a month writing club beautifully titled “What’s the Story Morning Glory?” I committed to attending the early morning sessions held on the first Friday of each month.

With great anticipation I rolled up for my first morning of writing last month where, surrounded by other enthusiastic writers, I selected a writing prompt (a photo with a sentence or two to encourage thinking and the creativity) and wrote to my heart’s content for an hour. This simple process began to fill a deep and empty well within me, it addressed a craving I’d had for years. This month I took my son, Blair, another keen but repressed writer, and that’s where the ballet slippers come in. In a rare moment of clarity several ideas solidified.

Okay, they aren't exactly ballet slippers but they're the closest I have.

Okay, they aren’t exactly ballet slippers but they’re the closest I have.

My prompt this month was a photograph of a pair of ballet slippers hung from a hook, by the ribbons, against the backdrop of a grey wall. The written component was:

Hemingway wrote this six word story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

My task was to write six six word stories of my own.

The enjoyment, the strain, the creativity this simple task required and seeing my son’s enjoyment at having devoted time to his passion; inspired me and set in motion two ideas. I left keen to create writing prompts for Blair who lives outside Brisbane and cannot take advantage of this wonderful once a month opportunity. I began my project immediately upon retuning home. I gathered photographs, pictures and various quotes. I wrote sentence prompts for the interesting, quirky photos and quotes I’d collected. I created a bank of tangible and electronic prompts that I will post or email to him each week so that he too has a stimulus to write for pleasure, as opposed to his everyday encounters with the written word.

The second light bulb moment was to write every week and not wait for the once a month opportunity at the Library. Yes, I know, seems self evident and I should have thought of it earlier but I realised, despite my keenness, if I didn’t leave the house I would fill my day up with chores; washing, shopping, mopping – all those fun things we do to keep busy. Sitting in the vibrant bubble of creativity and surrounded by other writers that crisp Friday morning I decided to create a routine for my writing. Each Friday I will leave the house early and settle down in an ambient coffee shop to write for a couple of hours. Today I headed back to the library precinct as its appeal for me is strong (thier tea is good too).

The inspiration for my weekly writing challenge will, for now, come from the Daily Post on WordPress ( a fantastic initiative of fellow bloggers who publish a daily writing prompt. Participants can tap in daily or weekly as suits them. Not only have I now carved out this wonderful time on Friday morning to write, I also have inspiration.

Having set my intention I was delighted to find opportunities to write during the week as well.  On Tuesday I arrived for a meeting to learn my colleague was running late. Finding myself unceremoniously propped up in the drab waiting room, without anything to occupy my time, I flicked open my inbox and was delighted to spend an engaging half hour writing thanks to the Daily Prompt.

This month is phoneography month at the Daily Post.  Phoneography encourages participants to capture precious moments using their camera phone. The first challenge I’ve undertaken is to capture a photo of someone looking truly happy. Not “I’m-smiling-for-this-photo” happy, but really, deeply, twinkle-in-the-eyes happy. A photo of a genuine smile, where the subject’s whole face gets involved — their whole body. The challenge is to capture the light in the subject’s eyes and a lack of forced tension.

What a wonderful month of writing I’ve had and it’s only just begun. I encourage you to set your intention and identify time in your week to indulge your passion. These small moments of joy are priceless.

Below are some samples of the fun I’ve had. Just a word of warning though for those among you who are literary geniuses – I said I was a keen writer not necessarily a good or brilliant writer. But, hey, I’m enjoying myself and right now that’s all that matters to me.

Hemingway wrote this six word story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Write six six word stories of your own.

Silent satin slippers seek sprightly sister.

Loneliness – a pervasive ache deep inside.

Pumps: small tokens of happier times.

Ballet slippers: reminders of wasted talent.

Hung out to dry – career over.

Impeccable word lore – soul soothing magic.

Daily Prompt Tuesday 5th March: Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?

Nowhere immediately comes to mind. Is there a place I never want to go? Would I be limiting myself if I say never? Certainly there are places that are not high on my wish list but would I cross them off indefinitely? I’m not sure.

Safety and pleasure are two criteria of travel for me. Aesthetic appeal is important too. I know I could not spend a long time on the slopes of ice covered mountains. The blandness of the snow and ice eats away at my heart. I like the earth, green grass and trees. Desolate arctic regions don’t stir my soul as do lush rainforests, open rolling plains and bustling vibrant city centres.  Although I have enjoyed and found deep peace on the dirty streets of Kathmandu, in the quiet solitude of remote monasteries and empty, far reaching rocky plains of Nepal.

Is there a place I would never visit? No. I’d give anywhere a go once, albeit for a limited time. I’d never say never.

Phoneography challenge: Capture a photo of someone looking truly happy

Deb and me

I love this photo of my friend Debbie and I taken several years ago. We were catching up for dinner on a Friday evening after a busy week when I realised, that despite being friends for several years, I didn’t have a photo of the two of us. Having a trusty camera phone in my bag we were able to capture that evening and our friendship forever.

This single photo of the two of us is very precious to me. It beautifully captures our happiness and ease with each other. It’s almost as if the camera did not exist. It is the only photo I have that records our fifteen year friendship.



2 thoughts on “How a pair of ballet slippers inspired me to write.

  1. Beautiful writing, I had to read to the very end, actually enthralled with what was to come next. I am so pleased you are finding the time to tap into such enjoyment for your Self. And sharing with your son too 🙂

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